Whether you're moving, looking to clean out a space, or are simply tired of living amidst clutter, you may decide you're ready to dump your excess stuff. One of the the most efficient ways to do this is to hire a professional waste removal company.
But what can you do to ensure that your unwanted belongings don't go straight to a landfill? The best approach is to select an eco-friendly junk removal service that maintains certain environmental standards. We've assembled a roundup of some of the top options for donating, recycling, or reusing your unwanted items.
Our Picks for the Top Eco-Friendly Junk Removal Companies
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
- Best Overall - Junk King
- Best Charity Partnerships - The JunkLuggers
- Best Upfront Pricing - LoadUp
- Best Customer Service - College HUNKS Hauling Junk & Moving
- Widest Coverage Area - 1-800-GOT-JUNK
- Best DIY Option - Habitat For Humanity ReStore
How We Chose the Best Eco-Friendly Junk Removal Services
PeopleImages / iStock / Getty Images Plus
What are the key factors to consider when looking for an eco-friendly decluttering and disposal company?
These are just a few of the things you'll want to bear in mind when choosing the best junk removal team.
What Happens to the Junk?
Always clarify what happens to unwanted items as they are carted off. Reputable services partner with charities to donate usable items like clothing and furniture, while recycling other materials to keep as many things things out of landfills as possible.
How Much Do They Divert from Landfills?
Before hiring a junk removal company, always ask them to clarify what percentage of their "junk" is either donated or recycled, as opposed to dumped in a landfill. We would recommend choosing a company that's willing to offer some transparency on this front to make sure your items are handled in an eco-friendly way.
What Items Will They Pick Up?
You should also clarify which items the company will take, and which items, if any, they won't. Will they take furniture? What about appliances or exercise equipment? You should especially clarify if you need removal of e-waste, that is, electronic devices that have reached the end of their useful life, and which may require special care as they are refurbished or recycled in some way.
Are They Eco-Friendly?
Try to find a junk removal company that celebrates its environmental stewardship, and outlines a long list of specific policies. For instance, are they conscious of fuel-consumption during pickups? Where and how do they sort recyclables and dispose of junk items? Again, transparency is crucial.
Are They Reputable?
Before hiring a junk disposal service, it never hurts to check and see if they are accredited with the Better Business Bureau. Additionally, checking Google and Facebook reviews may give you a rough idea of how well they care for their customers. This will also let you check their coverage areas to make sure they are available where you live.
What are the Rates?
Finally, you'll also want to keep affordability in mind. Don't hesitate to compare and contrast rates as you look for a junk removal service. Some will offer upfront pricing while others will require an on-site estimate.
The Best Eco-Friendly Junk Removal Companies
Mint Images / Mint Images RF / Getty Images
Junk King claims to be America's best, and greenest, junk removal service. That's a pretty lofty claim, but it's one that they back up with a proven record.
Here are just a few of the things we like about Junk King:
- They offer full service junk removal from coast to coast, ensuring eco-friendly hauling services are available in most areas.
- They either reuse or recycle about 60 percent of everything you junk; we appreciate their transparency in identifying how much they divert from landfills.
- They can handle almost any kind of junk, ranging from hot tubs and electronics to furniture and old appliances. They can handle e-waste, too.
- Junk King also gives free written estimates, with no obligation to use their service.
Why buy: Junk King excels in eco-stewardship, transparency, and range of services. They are able to recycle a ton of items including large appliances and furniture to electronics like TVs.
The Junkluggers is a waste disposal company that specifically focuses on eco-friendly junk removal. They even offer "green guarantees" regarding their approach to waste management and unwanted junk. Some of the things that stand out about Junkluggers include:
- They always strive to donate first, recycle second.
- They pledge 100 percent customer satisfaction.
- They work with reputable charity and non-profit partners, ensuring your items go to good use.
- They have a range of services, including e-waste removal.
Why buy: The Junkluggers makes sustainability a commitment, including pledges to donate/recycle as many items as possible. We like their commitment to sustainable junk removal and partnering with charities.
LoadUp is currently active in about 170 cities, and they are growing all the time. It's definitely worth double-checking to see if they provide services in your area.
A few things we like about LoadUp:
- They provide a range of services, including junk removal, indoor pickup, and outdoor pickup.
- They can handle a wide range of items, including furniture and appliances.
- They do a great job of presenting clear, up-front pricing.
LoadUp makes every effort to either donate or recycle junk items whenever possible, and to date they have diverted over 3 million pounds of junk from landfills.
Why buy: LoadUp is a fast-growing junk disposal service that offers a wide variety of services, as well as upfront and affordable pricing.
The College HUNKS team is perhaps best-known as a moving service, but if you have junk you need to get rid of, they can definitely help. Their team members are all well-trained to work efficiently, to deliver friendly customer service, and to show respect to your home or business.
- You can specifically ask them to do "donations pickups," grabbing old furniture or other unwanted items and taking them to a specified charity drop off center.
- They take a wide range of items and they make it easy to determine the total price of their services.
- They do pledge to be responsible and eco-friendly in everything they do, and can recycle up to 70% of all items they remove.
Why buy: The College HUNKS team has a stellar reputation for customer service. They also partner with Goodwill Industries and Habitat for Humanity ReStore to donate items. Plus, for every service they complete, they donate two meals to children through U.S. Hunger.
1-800-GOT-JUNK claims to be the world's largest junk removal company. Like other providers, they partner with local branches of national charities including the Salvation Army, Goodwill Industries, and Habitat for Humanity. We also like them for the following reasons:
- They provide clear, upfront pricing.
- They express an admirable commitment to responsible disposal in order to keep stuff out of landfills, primarily through recycling.
- They have a 24/7 customer service line, making it easy to schedule a service whenever.
- They take a wide range of items, and are active across the United States and in multiple countries.
Why buy: 1-800-GOT-JUNK is a powerhouse in the junk removal space. They recycle several unique items, including green waste and biomass, tires, and construction debris.
What about those who would prefer to take the DIY route, dropping off their junk at a receiving center rather than having someone come pick it up? If you have only a few items, and a means of transporting them, this may be the simpler and more cost-effective approach. The best place for DIY junk disposal is a Habitat for Humanity ReStore.
You can take your unwanted furniture and home improvement items to ReStore, where they will be cleaned up and then sold to the public at a significantly discounted rate. This is an ideal way to ensure your junk gets a second life, rather than ending up in a landfill.
Why buy: For DIY junk removal, Habitat for Humanity's ReStore is a fantastic option. They help give used items a second life and provide furniture and other household items to those in need.
How Does Eco-Friendly Junk Removal Work?
As you consider hiring an eco-friendly junk removal service, it may be helpful to step back and consider how these companies work.
Generally, you'll start by getting a quote. This will require you to let the company know how much junk you need to have removed, where it is located (indoors or outside), and what the contents include. This helps the junk removal company make certain that they send the right personnel and equipment to get rid of it and that the items in question are not hazardous materials.
The junk removal company will assess items for whether they are still usable or could be refurbished, in which case they may be donated to shelters or other charities. Alternatively, they will seek to recycle your items. The goal of any eco-friendly junk removal company should be diverting items away from the landfills, and you can always ask a representative from your chosen company about what percentage of items they typically divert.
What Items Can a Junk Removal Company Recycle or Donate?
There are many types of items that can be either recycled or donated, and thus kept out of the landfill. A few of the most common categories include:
- Furniture and appliances
- Exercise equipment
- Clothing and shoes
- Home decor
- Utensils and kitchen implements
- Art supplies
- Toys and board games
- Paper, metal, cardboard, and brick items
- Brush and yard waste
Again, to find out for sure whether your items can be either donated or recycled, your best bet is simply to reach out to a junk hauler and ask for their assessment.
What is e-Waste and How is it Bad for the Environment?
baranozdemir / iStock / Getty Images Plus
It's important to make special mention of e-waste, or electronic waste.
As we noted above, e-waste is a category that includes any electronic devices that have outlived their useful life and have been discarded.
One of the reasons why e-waste is so hazardous to the environment is that many electronics and computerized devices include toxic substances, which may include lead, beryllium, cadmium, and beyond. When they seep into the ground or the water, these substances can have long-term detrimental effects on local ecosystems, and even lead to public health concerns.
It's always important to ensure that any e-waste you have is taken care of by a company that specializes in processing electronics and computers in an environmentally responsible way.
Finding the Right Eco-Friendly Junk Removal Company
As you look for the right junk removal service, there are plenty of factors to consider, such as price point, range of service, and, of course, environmental stewardship.
Josh Hurst is a journalist, critic, and essayist. He lives in Knoxville, TN, with his wife and three sons. He covers natural health, nutrition, supplements, and clean energy. His writing has appeared in Health, Shape, and Remedy Review.
This Earth Month, Starbucks is experimenting with a circular economy.
From March 30 to May 31st, customers at five Seattle Starbucks will be able to order their drink in a reusable cup that they can then deposit themselves at a contactless kiosk or have picked up for them by area recycling service Ridwell.
"Promoting reusability is an important part of Starbucks goal to reduce waste by 50% by 2030," Starbucks Chief Sustainability Officer Michael Kobori said in the program announcement. "We understand the interdependency of human and planetary health, and we believe it is our responsibility to reduce single-use cup waste. We will lead the transition to a circular economy."
Borrow A Cup
Lauren Pinney / Edelman / Starbucks
The Borrow A Cup pilot works like this.
Step 1: Customers will order their drink in a reusable cup and pay a refundable $1 deposit.
Step 2: When they are done, customers will return the cups to a contactless kiosk in the store's lobby or drive-thru. They can then scan the Starbucks App for a $1 credit and 10 Bonus Stars.
Step 3: The cups will be collected and professionally cleaned by GO Box and returned to circulation within 48 hours.
Starbucks said each reusable cup would prevent as many as 30 disposable cups from being wasted.
The new pilot is not the first time the company has experimented with ways to reuse cups, a Starbucks spokesperson told EcoWatch in an email. The company has offered a discount for customers bringing their own containers since the 1980s and has long sold its own reusable thermoses and mugs at its stores. However, the idea of offering cups that can be returned to the store later is rather new. In 2019, it launched a month-long reusable cup trial at London's Gatwick airport and another test in the Bay Area. To prepare for the current trial, it ran single-store tests in the Seattle area during the fall and winter of 2020 and 2021.
"Those tests were intended to explore operations and logistics for our partners, and used our standard reusable traveler cup, usually available at the cash register," Starbucks explained. "This pilot will explore the scalability of the concept and equipment."
Starbucks did not say exactly how, when, or where the project would be expanded if it succeeds.
"We are optimistic about this program and we look forward to customer feedback as we explore scalable options to reduce single-use cup waste," the company spokesperson said.
Lauren Pinney / Edelman / Starbucks
One unique feature of the Seattle pilot is the partnership with Ridwell. Ridwell is an innovative Seattle-area company that grew out of a father and his six-year-old son's search for a place to safely dispose of batteries, according to the company website. Once they found their answer, they offered to take their neighbor's batteries, too.
The company's mission ignited from this initial spark. Ridwell picks up hard to reuse or recycle items from Seattle homes and finds a way to keep them out of landfills. This made partnering with Starbucks a natural fit. During the trial, the company will pick up the reusable cups from customers' homes.
"Our mission is to make it easy to waste less – just as easy (and hopefully more delightful!) than throwing things away. Offering our members the ability to return their reusable Starbucks cups without leaving their homes or needing to remember to bring them back to the store is a fantastic example of simplifying potential friction in reuse and circular programs at scale," a Ridwell spokesperson told EcoWatch in an email.
Ridwell said it would like to engage in more partnerships like this if the Starbucks trial succeeds.
"We are excited about expanding partnerships that enable a more earth-friendly way for our members to consume the things they enjoy (like a coffee!)," the spokesperson said.
A Tale of Two Markets
Lauren Pinney / Edelman / Starbucks
Environmental campaigners said that the Starbucks pilot is a step in the right direction.
"Greenpeace supports the model that Starbucks is exploring, through which customers essentially rent a reusable container for a deposit that is returned to them when they bring the container back," Greenpeace USA Oceans Campaign Director John Hocevar told EcoWatch in an email. "That container is then washed and cleaned and reused many times, as with other dishes in restaurants we frequent. Not only can this model help our environment and health, it can create new jobs and save businesses money in the long run."
However, Greenpeace argued that Starbucks could be moving faster with implementing this model across the U.S., something that seems to be supported by Starbucks' actions abroad.
The day before Starbucks announced the Seattle pilot, it also said that it would phase out all single-use cups from its South Korea stores by 2025. This will begin with a launch of reusable cups in certain stores in the city of Jeju this summer that will then expand to additional locations over the next four years.
"If Starbucks can eliminate all single-use cups in South Korea by 2025 and shift entirely to reuse, it can do more than implement a trial program here with a goal of reducing waste by 50% by 2030," Hocevar said. "Starbucks' goal should be to eliminate all of its disposable coffee cups as quickly as possible and scale up these reusable programs across all of its markets."
Starbucks, for its part, said that local conditions determined how quickly it could roll out new ideas in different places.
"In some cases, market level conditions allow us to move quickly than others, which in turn allows us to share those learnings in other markets," the company said.
But Greenpeace noted there is another key difference between the U.S. and South Korea. The latter passed a law in 2018 banning disposable cups at sit-down restaurants, and the Environment Minister further revised rules in February to cut down on plastic and other disposable items.
"It definitely appears as though South Korea's recent actions against single-use plastics, particularly for dine-in options, has influenced Starbucks to act with greater urgency there," Hocevar told EcoWatch. "This is part of the reason we need to pass the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act [in the U.S.] and develop a global plastics treaty to move toward reuse urgently."
- Recycling in the U.S. Is Failing, But These 7 Cities Are Doing Things ... ›
- The Recycling Industry in America Is Broken - EcoWatch ›
- Reusable Cups, Bags and Containers Can Be Safe During COVID ... ›
As California enters its second consecutive dry year and braces for what could be another devastating wildfire season, Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a drought emergency on Wednesday, in just two counties. The declaration targets Mendocino and Sonoma counties, known for their wineries and grape growing, and where conditions are desperately dry.
Standing in the dry bottom of Lake Mendocino, Newsom said, "Oftentimes we overstate the word historic, but this is indeed an historic moment, certainly historic for this particular lake, Mendocino," according to AP News. The lake is at about 40 percent of its normal capacity. Lake Sonoma, another local reservoir, is only about 62 percent full.
Here in Lake Mendocino, we should be 40 ft. underwater but it’s dry. This is climate change. Today, we declared a… https://t.co/ISsasLAihB— Office of the Governor of California (@Office of the Governor of California)1619034124.0
According to the California Department of Water Resources, this is the state's fourth-driest year on record, especially in the northern parts of the state. At the beginning of the month, state officials announced that snow accumulation in the Sierra Nevada mountains and the Cascades was about 40 percent below average levels, The Guardian reported.
Newsom's declaration has already faced criticism from state officials and farmers in the Central Valley, who say the governor's approach isn't sufficient to address the drought that impacts almost all parts of the state.
"(T)he Central Valley can't afford to be overlooked," state Sen. Andreas Borgeas (R-Fresno) said in a statement, according to The Mercury News. "We need a statewide emergency declaration immediately in order to deliver more water to farmers and growers in the Valley."
To others, the governor's regional approach "sounds like a good idea," Jay Lund, director of the Center for Watershed Sciences and a professor of civil and environmental engineering at UC Davis, told The Mercury News, who added that the governor should not declare a widespread drought too early, to avoid "crying wolf."
Currently, California is in a similar situation to what it experienced six years ago when former Gov. Jerry Brown declared a water emergency. But state officials say today's current drought will be unlike anything seen before, requiring innovative measures, according to CalMatters.
Although the governor has yet to declare a state-wide emergency, officials have been warning Californians of the drought. In March, the California's State Water Resources Control Board, for example, "sent early warnings to 40,000 water rights holders urging them to start conserving," AP News reported.
"If you're in a different part of the state, you probably need to know that this will one day happen to you," Karla Nemeth, director of the California Department of Water Resources, said of the drought declaration, according to AP News.
In early April, a group of state legislators sent a letter to Newsom urging him to declare a drought emergency, CalMatters reported. "This is the slowest, most foreseeable train wreck imaginable," said Sen. Borgeas, who helped write the letter.
Newsom's reluctance to declare a state-wide emergency may have something to do with his looming recall campaign, set for later this year, according to political strategist Dan Schnur, The Mercury News reported.
"It's hard to think of another explanation about why he'd be tiptoeing around such a critically important issue," Schnur told The Mercury News. "He's clearly very sensitive about pushing voters too hard on water usage in the aftermath of the pandemic restrictions."
Regardless of whether the declaration covers their county, some local water districts are already taking matters into their own hands. In Marin County, for example, adjacent to Sonoma, water officials voted Tuesday to require residents to reduce water use by measures such as not washing vehicles at home or filling backyard pools, AP News reported.
As the state continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic and a sluggish economy, scarce resources and the threat of another wildfire season will only ignite further tensions. Acknowledging that water is a "politically fractious issue" in the state, Gov. Newsom urged people not to resort to "old binaries" like urban vs. rural, The Mercury News reported.
"This is California," he said. "We are Californians."
- California Faces 'Critically Dry Year' - EcoWatch ›
- U.S. Allows Nestlé to Keep Piping Water From Drought-Ridden ... ›
Much of the conversation surrounding the ecological benefits of tropical rainforests focuses on South America's Amazon. However, the forests of Central Africa are just as important. While the Amazon is the largest contiguous rainforest in the world, Central Africa's rainforests are the world's second largest, Nature reported. They store more carbon per hectare than the Amazon and host a higher concentration of large trees than any other continent.
They are also under threat. A new study published in Nature on Wednesday maps the different forest types present in Central Africa and pinpoints which are most vulnerable to the climate crisis and human activity.
"Africa is forecasted to experience large and rapid climate change and population growth during the twenty-first century, which threatens the world's second largest rainforest," the study authors wrote. "Protecting and sustainably managing these African forests requires an increased understanding of their compositional heterogeneity, the environmental drivers of forest composition and their vulnerability to ongoing changes."
To accomplish this goal, a France-based research team examined data concerning six million trees from more than 180,000 field plots in Cameroon, Gabon, the Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, AFP reported.
The team mapped the forests based on where different plants thrived.
"The forest area of Central Africa is far from being a homogeneous green carpet. It is home to a wide variety of forests with different characteristics, including their own particular carbon storage capacity," Maxime Réjou-Méchain, study lead author and French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD) ecologist, said in an IRD press release. "This diversity can be explained by the different types of climate (humidity, temperature, evapotranspiration rate, amount of rainfall) and soils, as well as by the history of the African flora and the degree of human activity that has disturbed the forests for thousands of years, such as shifting agriculture."
The researchers identified 10 types of forest, according to Nature. These include Atlantic coastal evergreens in Gabon and semi-deciduous forests at the northern edge of the Central African study area. The researchers then compared their map with projections for how the region's climate is likely to change by 2085.
Because the various forest types have evolved over time to thrive in different climate niches, the rise in global temperatures might mean that some trees will be less able to adapt to a changing climate.
"[T]he forest margins in the north and south of the region, the Atlantic forests and most of those in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is home to more than half of Central Africa's forests, are among the most vulnerable," Professor Bonaventure Sonké, study coauthor and University of Yaoundé 1 botanist, told IRD.
However, the research also presents a guide to conserving the particular biodiversity of these forests.
"These results must now be used and applied to develop land use plans that preserve forest characteristics while maintaining connections between protected zones through sustainably managed timber production forests," Sylvie Gourlet-Fleury, study coauthor and CIRAD forest ecologist, said in the press release.
While human activity threatens the forests, they are also key resources for the people who live in and near them.
"[R]ainforests in Central Africa and the ecosystem services they provide are intertwined with people's livelihoods and food security," Marion Pfeifer from Newcastle University's School of Natural and Environmental Sciences and Deo Shirima from Tanzania's Sokoine University of Agriculture wrote in Nature. "Developing sustainable management plans that recognize the diversity of the ways in which people interact with and depend on these forests will be a huge challenge. It will require concerted cross-disciplinary and cross-sectoral efforts that move beyond national boundaries."
The Race to Save the World is releasing on Virtual Cinema this Earth Day. Instead of focusing on paralyzing facts and numbers this inspiring feature takes a unique approach by following passionate activists, ages 15-72, who are in the trenches fighting for a livable future. These brave climate warriors put their lives on the line to push for change, regardless of the personal cost.
Emmy award-winning filmmaker Joe Gantz brings an urgent and intimate portrait of the protests, arrests, courtroom drama and family turmoil these activists endure as they single-mindedly focus their attention on the goal of creating a more sustainable world for future generations. "The Race To Save The World" is an inspiring and energizing call-to-action to quit waiting on the sidelines and make our voices heard.
Watch the exclusive Earth Day preview above.
For more on "The Race to Save the World" read Olivia Rosane's article "3 New Films to Watch This Earth Week."
Where to Entire Film Watch: Virtual Cinema
Forty leaders from the world's top greenhouse gas-polluting nations where hosted by the Biden administration on Thursday for an all-virtual summit to discuss the global climate emergency and the pathways — including individual emission reduction goals — that governments must take to stave off the worst impacts of global warming and runaway destruction of the planet's natural systems.
Just ahead of the gathering, President Joe Biden announced new U.S. commitments to meeting the goals set forth in the 2015 Paris climate agreement and said that the nation will now aim to reduce annual carbon output by 52% compared to 2005 levels.
"Our clean energy plan will create millions of good-paying union jobs, ensure our economic competitiveness, and improve the health and security of communities across America," Biden said in a declaration released ahead of the summit. "By making those investments and putting millions of Americans to work, the United States will be able to cut our greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030."
While the most ambitious target ever set forth by an American president — and a total reversal from the destructive policies of his predecessor Donald J. Trump — climate scientists and advocacy groups have been outspoken to say that even Biden's stated goals are simply "not enough" to meet U.S. obligations or keep the world from less than 1.5ºC of warming this century.
Watch the summit above.
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.